Delia accuses Muscat of ‘premeditated theft’ in Vitals hospital contract

PN leader Adrian Delia says procurement evaluation report shows hospitals PPP was clearly intended to favour pre-selected company

Adrian Delia (centre) with MP Jason Azzopardi
Adrian Delia (centre) with MP Jason Azzopardi

The Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has accused former prime minister Joseph Muscat of ‘premeditated theft’ over millions spent by the Maltese government to finance its management obligations for the three state hospitals being run by Steward Healthcare International.

In a press conference, Delia revealed a procurement evaluation report which he claims was drawn up simply to pass on three state hospitals to a private operator – at the time Vitals Global Healthcare – simply for the purpose of profit.

Delia said the procurement evaluation report was kept hidden by the Maltese government and only submitted in court by the evaluation board’s chairman James Camenzuli as part of a court case in the Vitals PPP filed by Delia.

“The government has kept this document hidden so as to hide its own premeditated theft… I have already said this: this was a plan to earn millions from a premeditated failure,” Delia said.

The board of evaluation included one of the Nexia BT partners, Manuel Castagna, who have assisted as auditors to former chief of staff Keith Schembri. “I have no doubt these people were in full complicity with the Maltese government in the theft of taxpayers’ money,” Delia said.

Since 2015, the spend on the three hospitals increased by close to €100 million.

“We now know Joseph Muscat is lobbying on behalf of the outsider here [Steward]… if you see the poor verification carried out of this management agreement, it is scandalous. Everyone associated with this contract has to take responsibility for this.”

Delia said he will demand explanations as to why taxpayers were being robbed of their money to pay “outsiders who are not giving us any service for what they are paid.”

'Robert Abela must make a decision immediately'

Delia said that Prime Minister Robert Abela "needs to make a decision immediately" with regards to ministers, including Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, in light of the procurement and evaluation report published by the party.

Delia said that he was disappointed that Abela hadn't yet made a decision and presumed that the prime minister knew about the contract beforehand. 

"I am very surprised that Robert Abela is yet to make a decision in light of all of this. Hopefully, he doesn't say that he was unaware of this agreement because that would be an act of irresponsibility like never before. I am presuming that he knew about it, so he should have taken a decision earlier," he said.

Asked by MaltaToday whether Abela's position is untenable eitherway, Delia did not respond and instead said that it was truly shocking that business consultants Nexia BT were once again involved in the procurement process.

"It's unbelievable that we paid Vitals €180 million from the get go and then kept paying them millions per year, another €20 million in 2016, €40 million in 2017, another €40 million in 2018 and €50 million in 2019. And Joseph Muscat approached Abela to tell him that we need to keep paying them. For what? They took our money, property and gave nothing back," Delia said, adding that in a public-private partnership, the private bidder should also enter into a risk, something that was not done in this particular case.

Delia insisted that he had taken the government to court over the Vitals deal back in 2018 to return the hospitals back to state ownership. He said that the case was now at the stage where he was summoning witnesses to testify for new information to come out regarding the concessions deal.

Asked how he could explain his bad showing in the polls, Delia said that his job as an Opposition Leader was to safeguard the interests of the people. 

"Our point here is to safeguard the interest of our nation, then it's up to the people to vote. After the electorate sees the reactions of this government to this revelation, it will then decide who to trust."